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Full text of "My Country And My People"

Chapter Five
WOMAN'S  LIFE

I. THE SUBJECTION OF WOMEN

SOMETHING in the Chinese blood never quite gave woman
her due from primeval times. The fundamental dualistic out-
look, with the differentiation of the yang (male) and the yin
(female) principles, went back to the Book of Changes, which
was later formulated by Confucius. The respect for women,
a certain tenderness toward the female sex, which was charac-
teristic of the Teutonic races already in their barbaric days,
was absent in the early pages of Chinese History. As early as
the time of the folk-songs, collected in the Book of Poems, there
was a sexual inequality, for "when a baby boy was born he
was laid on the bed and given jade to play with, and when a
baby girl was born she was laid on the floor and given a tile
to play with.5' (This song must have been centuries older than
Confucius.) But woman was not subjected until she was
civilized. The progressive subjection of women followed pace
by pace the increasing development of Confucianism.

The original social system was a matriarchal system, and this
is important, for something of this spirit still survives in Chinese
womanhood to the present day. The Chinese woman is, on
the whole, a constitutionally sounder animal than her male
companion, and we still have plenty of matriarchs even in the
Confucian households. Traces of this matriarchy were still
clearly visible in the Chou Dynasty, when the family name,
or hsing, was the woman's name, and man had only a personal
name, or shift, after his place of birth or his official position.
Throughout the folk-songs of the Book of Poems we fail to see
any traces of the seclusion of women. Something of thefreedom
in the choice of mates, like what still prevails among the
southern aborigines of Kwangsi, must have prevailed in the

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